What does “real” reading look like?

I can picture my daughter sitting in her little chair on the floor in our living room with a stack of books to her left. As a three year old, she would sit for long stretches of time, reading to herself. She turned pages, she looked at pictures, she talked to herself and to the characters or images in the books. When she was done reading one book, she would put it on the floor to her right and move onto the next book in her pile. Many would ask, but is that really reading?

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As a parent and an educator, one of my biggest concerns in thinking about young readers is about our (parents, educators, publishers, nation-builders) lack of a shared, respectful, and appropriate sense of what we mean when we talk about young children as readers. I firmly believe that children are, and need to know they are, readers long before they can decode and “read” the words with independence. As a result, I have been looking forward to reading Kathy Collins and Matt Glover’s new book, I Am Reading: Nurturing Young Children’s Meaning Making and Joyful Engagement With Any Book, and I was especially excited to find a video of these two amazingly thoughtful early childhood educators and authors talk about the essence of their new book. Check it out here. Kathy and Matt talk about supporting young readers to develop their language capacity and independence before they are decoding. I love it!

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